Should Graphic Panels Ever Sidestep Good Grammar?

There are circumstances when copywriters and graphic designers must decide whether to break a grammar rule for the sake of visual cohesion and quick comprehension. Take the following text on a theoretical graphic panel:

Get to Know Skunk Cabbage
• Attracts pollinating insects with a strong odor.
• Favorite food of black bears.
• Generates heat during the winter to pop through snow.

Putting other interpretive qualities of the theoretical graphic aside to concentrate on the point at hand, notice how the three bullet-pointed phrases start with a capital letter and end with a period. Each bullet pointed phrase read easier when treated as a complete sentence. Grammar was sidestepped for the sake of brevity, readability, and visual cohesion.

When determining whether to break a grammar rule, the copywriters and graphic designers first ask themselves:
1) How egregious is the transgression?
2) Will evidence of the transgression take away from its benefits.
3) Has every other option been considered prior to breaking the rule?
4) Who is the target audience and who is the client? (Breaking rules in an exhibit about the English language aimed at a grade school audience is likely a no-no!)

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